It’s been reported that Transport for London (TfL) is using SAP HANA to increase the organisation and day-to-day planning of the capital’s transport network. The enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is used to process vast amounts of data, including that from the Internet of Things, and TfL suggests it will help them make “different decisions and outcomes” in the future.
TfL first began using SAP HANA in July 2014. It experienced a staggered release, with the organisation only utilising the analytics platform and in-memory database. Chief Information Officer Steve Townsend was, at the time, hesitant on whether the solution would be rolled out across the whole of TfL. This is exactly what’s happened, however, and now Townsend has revealed that TfL are already gaining benefits.
Talking on the subject of how SAP has enabled TfL to bring increased efficiency to planning, Townsend explained: “So things that used to take a long time, such as the reports and analytics that we used to generate, just generally go faster. It came as a surprise to us because we didn't think we’d see so many requests of data from our ERP, and we went from overnight processing to pressing a button and having (the data) processed the same. So it’s driven a layer of asking different questions over a short period of time, which can affect your planning and improve your planning cycles.”
SAP HANA has offered numerous benefits to TfL. For example, Townsend said that by utilising the solution’s in-memory data management features, the organisation could answer queries with real-time data. Whilst this isn’t yet allowing instant change, it is providing TfL with a way to better plan for the future. Some SAP features are also being used in conjunction with traffic-management processes. It means that vast volumes of information can be processed in a short period of time.
Despite the benefits being yielded, Townsend continues to urge caution, saying that it will take more time for the system to fully mature and the business to get some real value from it. “There are some business processes that just cannot be enhanced by the use of in-memory data management,” he said.
He added that he sees it like other technology in that users have to begin to use it, understand it and become aware of how everything works before deploying it fully. In addition, with legacy systems, such as TfL’s railways management systems, unable to interface with SAP HANA, it’s not yet appropriate for all areas of transport management.